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All city 08 18 2016Wow!  I overcame a 6-6-6-6 start in the first round of the Walla Walla City Championship, steadying my nerves to post my best round of the year.  Eight over after four, I finished the front nine in ten over 46.  A decent comeback for a twenty handicapper.  After double-bogeying number ten, the magic began. Par saves and a birdie chip-in were mixed with long, powerful, straight drives. I left a few wedge/9-iron shots WAY short of greens, only to hit sweet recovery wedges and crucial putts on some of them.  It was so fun!  I toured the back in 39, netting 65 for the day. It put me in position to challenge in the open division (white tees), sandwiched between the championship contenders (blue tees) and the seniors (gold tees).  I am so excited for tomorrow!

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Golf is mysteriously enticing. How to stay mentally primed? Focused on positivity, visualizing sweet, pure strokes. Loving the feel of solid contact and skyrocketing shots, often nestling near the target. So sweet! I did that for much of the time tonight, and it soothed my soul. But the mystery lives on: I slipped off at times, for three holes especially, before swinging smoothly for the final two holes. Six pars, four bogeys and a double bogey. I missed two ten foot birdie putts but had good distance feel. Even some of the bogeys included beautiful shots. Practice breeds consistency. My heart knows some practice I need is in my mind. Tee it up!

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Pat & Lyn live in golf heaven!

Pat loves fine desert living!

Pat loves fine desert living!

Today is a transition, sandwiching golfing utopia and high-level football. Stanford travels to Washington State University in a battle for PAC-12 north supremacy. Pat and I savored swimming and stretching in warm water and weather at his home before cruising to Sky Harbor today. The Nevada mountains below me are topped with snow as the sun shines brilliantly. It’s been a dreamy week. Lyn and Pat are such great hosts. A victory tomorrow would taste like dessert. We’ve enjoyed a resurgence of kick-ass football. Pullman boasts one of the most exciting teams in the country, with remarkable players. Rain and wind are expected to return, granting the Cougars a chance to redeem their season-opening slop-drop against Portland State.

With the looming time change, lunches on the golf range sound appropriate. I hope for rounds at Veteran’s Memorial, Canyon Lakes and perhaps Palouse Ridge/Wildhorse/Othello on the near horizon. Autumn golf in the north will beg patience and restraint. How low can I go?

I’m wondering if my exposure to warm desert golf will be a life-changing event for me. To follow masterful links with a soothing swim is a great way to live. Would it be awesome for a month or more?

I hit golf balls from small mountains and soon I will ski across bigger ones. I believe that core work, strength training and high energy cardio-vascular adventures like hiking, spinning, squatting, running and climbing offer me avenues to greater achievement, firing my body and soul. How many mountains will I summit this winter? How fully will I savor the fruits of life as I dance to the passage of time?

I sense a need to mix it up, see the world and greet new adventures with a fiery passion, recognizing the fleeting nature of life. Work has enriched me and play has treated me even better. My spirit soars and dances and blossoms in wild community. These are the greatest treats. Want to play with me soon?

Lyn and Pat live the good life, including amazing golf at Tonto Verde Peaks course.

Lyn and Pat live the good life, including amazing golf at Tonto Verde Peaks course.

Lyn’s net 69 mastered the inaugural Desert Classic at Tonto Verde’s Peaks course, which was lovely in almost every way. Lyn won match play over both Pat and I.

Desert golf is brothers' bonding is an amazing way!

Desert golf is brothers’ bonding in an amazing way!

The greens were slow, the translation suggested foolish greens, which looked like they’d be incredible when fast. The views were magnificent.

Who believes they can take me in a long drive contest?

Who believes they can take me in a long drive contest?

We hit some beautiful shots and occasionally found the desert. Lyn was the straightest hitter and most consistent putter (29). Pat and I matched 89’s to ramp up suspense.

Lyn is the champion...of the day!

Lyn is the champion…of the day!

In the week-long competition, Pat beat me 35-28 in head-to-head skins and I nipped him 3 days to 2 in match play. Pat made three beautiful birdies, including a hole-out from the sand that was exciting and rare for it’s range.

Desert master Pat crafts a recovery shot.

Desert master Pat crafts a recovery shot.

I hit a high, long eight iron to eight feet past and stroked it home for birdie on hole 6 (78/90).

Should I shorten my backswing?

Should I shorten my backswing?

We enjoyed this lovely slice of Rio Verde and the awe-inspiring drive, showcasing the Four Peaks and surrounding mountains. The views were magnificent, the company so loving and golf as I’ve never seen it before. Wow! I am a desert golf lover!

Bring on the long drive contest!

Bring on the long drive contest!

Lyn strokes it pure!

Lyn strokes it pure!

Pat grooves his swing.

Pat grooves his swing.

Beaver Beatdown!

Beaver Beatdown!

PREGAME:

It’s another great day! It’s early, in Pullman, Washington. To me, this is the home of college football. There’s no place I’d rather be today, and I know some very cool places.

It’s the excitement! Muscle toned studs in their prime doing battle on the great American battlefield. So awesome! My competitive juices are already flowing, and I haven’t even had coffee yet. I’ve showered and shaved and trimmed and flushed, so I am primed. But, about that coffee…..

After a tough season, the Wazzu Cougars opened with what many called their worst game in years, losing to a lower tier team from Portland State. Doomsayers called for the coach’s head, projecting a dismal season. I only laughed. Though also disheartened by the sub-par effort, I knew a season is not about one game. I knew the Cougars were better than they showed. But how much better?

Well, last-minute victories over Rutgers and Oregon and a giveaway to Cal showed that these Cougars can play. How much more will they improve as the schedule toughens? That’s an exciting question whose answer will develop over seven weeks. Perhaps even weeks after that!

Family/friendly tailgates are special treats. I loved hanging with Nick and Jaslyn and visiting with so many cool people at Jim’s superb bash.

POST GAME:

Wow! We were treated to a half of Cougar offense that was near perfection. Luke Falk spirited the Cougar offense to six touchdown passes in seven possessions, plus a field goal. They moved the ball at will, executing beautifully on varietal passes and runs. Falk avoided sacks and found open teammates. The Cougars are so exciting!

Sometimes. They stumbled in the second half, after 45 – 17 at the break. They lost their edge, when they no longer needed it to win. The defense gave up a lot of yards, yet made great hits and plays. Special teams had success, like a fifty yard kickoff return, stopping a fake punt, and holding some kickoff returns in check. They also allowed a one-hundred yard kickoff return, a blocked punt and a muffed onside kick. But this win feeds momentum, excitement and imagined possibilities. Still, the Cougars must practice hard and play each play. Next Saturday’s game in Tucson is again pivotal.  GO COUGS!!!

About that being anywhere else thing.  Here’s a cool place I’ve been at least close to. Thank you great and powerful adventurers!

Is that Colchuck from Aasgard? Photo courtesy of Northwest Wildass Adventurers, Ltd.

Is that Colchuck from Aasgard? Photo courtesy of Northwest Wildass Adventurers, Ltd.

I believe that’s what we need, from time to time.  Or always!

I shot my best golf score of the year on Saturday, hitting ten greens and missing nine of the birdie putts, including about four from a ten to twelve foot range and a four footer. The ten footer that dropped felt sweet. I hit about five fairways, but stayed between the trees much of the time.  It was a day to savor, for reuniting with Gary, sunshine, fresh air, a nice walk, and improvement. I made another stride towards scoring like I did decades ago. I think it’s because I was simply enjoying the sheer delights of golf. I must admit that the Cougars whipping Oregon on the gridiron was delicious dessert!

Change your lens, change your life.  What a great message! I’ve used this reminder for two group talks lately, both of which seemed appreciated by the audiences.  I used it at the Portland marathon, massaging my personal worst time into a pleasurable interaction with many motivated souls.  What a wonderful chance for great fun with Annie and Remington! Our diverse adventures in Portland made the marathon a chapter, rather than a narrow focus.  It feels like evolution.

Now I get to take a southerly adventure with Pat, after another visit with Nick and Jaslyn in Pullman for some exercise, great food and hopefully more awesome Cougar football! Adventure is back in full swing in my life and in my soul. Yeah!

Lessons are interchangeable for various parts of our lives.  Let’s open our minds to applying them!

Keep your head steady.  This is so important for consistent ball striking in golf, getting along with others and positive living.

Let it go.  Everything, everyone, especially ego.  Because it opens possibilities and removes barriers.

Relax.  Our minds and muscles both work better.  We think of creative solutions and stroke beautiful shots when we release the near paralysis of tension.

Practice makes us better.  Speaking, all types of golf shots, running, writing, making music and art, etc.  Masterpieces are not a result of luck.

Moving is grooving.  Nobody enhances their life via less activity, if they have a choice.  Some overcome amazing challenges, but anyone who can move should keep it up!

Good fuel helps us think and perform better.  When we are in tune with how food and drink affects our body, we open the doors to amazing enhancements!

Living well is far from hell.  It’s cool to allow ourselves to succeed.  I hope I do it soon in golf.  Or I’ll have to practice even more!

Namaste.

It feels so good!  It makes me want to do it more, to savor the delights. Why not?

Lately I have wondered if I can learn to do it even better. Will that suggest that I’m approaching my center?

There are many aspects of a smooth stroke, so it is easy to stray from the ideal. I can feel when the stroke is not right. I don’t always know what to do about it, however. This year, I have stroked poorly much of the time. It is frustrating and bewildering. But it also gives perspective on how awesome good stroking is.

Somehow, today my stroke was on. Not on every stroke, but on many. There are many ways to fail, but the good ones were so sweet today. Rising high into the sky, tonight’s wedge shots were mostly decent to good, while some were awesome. One seemed to be the highest, longest wedge shot of my life.  I was in awe that I hit it. I watched it climb and climb, seeming to rise 20% higher than the others. As it flew a great distance, I was engrossed in curiosity about what made it so different. Could I recreate that magic swing on a more regular basis? Will I move towards better scoring? The powerful draw of the greatest game has its claws in me.  I am hooked again.

There is much to remember: loose grip/relaxed muscles, appropriate stance, pushback/takeaway with an upright swing plane, and most importantly, balance.  Follow-through towards target, steady head, controlled swing length, hip timing, etc.  It’s really fun when all I need to think is “relax.” Then let it happen. I want more days when the ball flies straight where I aim. So I’ll keep practicing, and keep the faith. The high scores I’ve posted this year are not written in stone. They fade away fast, as fast as my mind realizes that my true destiny is to stroke it well. Though the scores are not my worth, they do paint a picture of my journey. I await its maturation.

FORE!

Annie and Julie are tackling adventure and wellness at every turn!

Annie and Julie are tackling adventure and wellness at every turn!

The full moon seemed to smile at me as the sun set, like an inspirational shift change. Despite the bug plastered windshield, it stirred sweet adventure memories and radiated wellness. What a fitting culmination to a full weekend! I tasted the riches of family, friends, travel, physical challenge, coffee, shopping, dining and peaceful rest. All is well!

Mark and Frank keep entering in a young guys division.

Mark and Frank keep entering in a young guys division.

It was pretty tough for a while. Bloomsday is a little like a plunge into an icy lake. Many people view it as a spring-time tradition. We see who we are. I was confronted with my past selves and I wished I could stride like some of them. And I think maybe I can. Or not. The mysteries will be revealed and created!

Adventure partners forever!

Adventure partners forever!

People are so interesting. We offer much and sometimes deliver little. Our potential is incredible. Our limiting beliefs dance with our willingness to try to be truly open-minded, fighting for the precious ground of our souls. We rarely know when we’re missing out, choosing to think that our opinions and beliefs are sacred, accurate truths. How silly we can be!

I may have done one thing right, or not. Bloomsday officials have a new ploy called “time up Doomsday.”  They measure how long it takes to ascend the brutal hill between 4.3 and 5 miles into the 7.46 mile race. It may be a good idea for some people to buy into this chase. For me, walking the entire steep part yesterday may have saved my life. I was red-lining, after zooming past hundreds of people on the steep downhill before Doomsday. I’ve learned that I’m very good on downhill portions, and I simply love to run fast. The mob hindered me during an early downhill section, but it thinned a bit and the course widened by the middle of the race. So I hauled ass! Then I accepted my need to walk. No, I would not post one of my faster race times. But I would still do the best I could on this day, and live to race again. Hundreds of people passed me on the hill. Many of them faded badly after the hill, and I passed them back. My ego loved the times when I passed guys who appeared to be about my age. Yay! I passed another old guy! How silly I can be!

I cannot adequately describe to you how good water, coffee and food taste after long runs. It must be experienced first-hand. It is amazing!

This is how Annie feels about Bloomsday each year and about adventure in general:

This is how Annie feels about Bloomsday each year and about adventure in general: “Let’s do it!”

I hate to run and then I love to run. It is so hard to go running. It is deeply rewarding to keep running. I love the high I get when I reach autopilot. It’s a zone where I can just keep running. All is well. No fears, burdens or anxieties. Great blood flow to all of my body, including my brain. Breathe in, breathe out. Absorb the sights, the sounds, the fresh air, the exhilarating power of trained muscles.  Ahhhhhhhh. This is good!

My ego wants to beat somebody. But just getting out is what’s truly important. Moving is rejuvenating, enlightening, inspiring and invigorating. It makes me better. I am so grateful I can still do it. What a rich blessing!

I found new trails on my run on Sunday and my walk on Monday. Adventure is good for my soul. It helps my mind open up a little. Maybe I’ll be more receptive to new ways of thinking. Won’t that be good?

After my run on Tuesday I showered quickly to rejoin the retreat team for dinner. On the walk there, it felt like all I had to do was lift my legs and they would automatically spring forward. It was kind of freaky after my autopilot thoughts. My muscles have listened and obeyed.  They just want to run! My refreshed attitude and energy boost were bonuses.

I think I’ll plan a trip somewhere new, play some new golf courses, try new activities, and meet some new people. Yes! Maybe I’ll even take a run…

Annie is lean and fast!  Here she is after smoking me by 7.5 minutes at the Badger Mountain Challenge, 2015 Hurricane Edition!

Annie is lean and fast! Here she is after smoking me by 7.5 minutes at the Badger Mountain Challenge, 2015 Hurricane Edition!

It’s a law of nature. Training hard enables running faster. Reducing training leads to running slower. It’s a cool rule, because you can’t steal speed. You can’t wish it upon anyone. You simply get what you deserve. It cuts out identity thieves and other freeloaders.

Annie has trained harder than me. She deserved to kick my ass and so she did. Hooray for her efforts and for justice in the world!

The Badger Mountain Challenge amplifies the disparity between the in-shape and the wannabes. I ran fast on the downhills, using determination and experience. The uphill sections tend to differentiate, beautifully so. Honest folks have to love it!

Annie’s been leading a life worthy of emulation, embracing regular, varied exercise and nutritional wisdom. She is a model of consistency. Each time I visit her, I make cool strides in the proper direction. I want more strides!

I slipped into ailments and distractions, also known as work, movies, overeating and settling for mediocrity. I feel re-awakened by Annie’s good old-fashioned ass-kicking and our day-after spin class leaders’ encouraging reminders: we must push to grow, you don’t know how much you can push until you try, YOU CAN DO IT!

Life deals out road forks. I see one here. Slippage or growth? Discouragement or encouragement? In short, live or die?

I hope to live, as fully as my mind can manage. I can learn from lots of people. There are many who teach me how not to drive, speak, write, eat and otherwise spend my time. There are fewer worthy role models. How fun to hope to hang with them! When they help me grow, to become a better version of myself, I become richer. I see the glow, feel the spark, embrace the excitement, taste the depth and hope for even more. It’s the best way I know how to live. Thank you to those of you who remind me what to do, because I forget. We can save each other!

Mountain man Frank brings it home in style (go gravity!).

Mountain man Frank brings it home in style (go gravity!).

WSU Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Summa Cum Laude, 2014, Annie the Adventurer!

WSU Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Summa Cum Laude, 2014, Annie the Adventurer!

Often, we get what we deserve. How we live paints the canvas of our lives. Persistence pays off. Going for what we want usually gets us there. Persistence, dedication, patience, perseverance and faith foster success. It’s cool to see people live this way. It’s nice to see my offspring do so! Annie’s college journey has delivered her to the job she wants. Her graduation culminates a transition between childhood and adult life. Her dreams include adventure, motherhood and providing health care to others. She is one fun lady!

Looks like she made it!

Looks like she made it!

Perhaps coincidentally, the sweet kitten Annie picked out over twelve years ago took her last breaths recently. Tali gave us a lot of love. She will be missed. She stayed when others left. Perhaps her last mission was teaching me that when everyone else leaves, God remains.  What more could we need?

 

Wild things!

Wild things!

Tali is always home!

Tali is always home!

I see great things when I look through centered eyes. I see misery when I look through the fog of discontent. Details of conditions are mostly irrelevant. My mission is clarified: live a centered life. Be a ray of hope, a wave of optimism, a laugh in the night, a smile in the rain and a hand when it’s needed. Embrace spiritual connectedness. I hope you dance!

A golf view in a football town...

A golf course view of a football town…..

Faith. Is it the final frontier? Exploring it shows what it can do. Faith in God. Faith in human goodness. Faith in cooperation. Faith in oneself, built from faith in a God who creates masterpieces. Like my golf swing! Sometimes. When? When I let it! When I don’t feel the need to do too much. It’s like coach Mike Leach preaches in football: just do your job. You don’t need to score 14 points on any one play. Just do your job. I don’t need 300 yard drives, especially ones that end in deep grass, behind trees, on top of houses, in lakes, etc. I don’t need to do grand things at work. Just my job: cooperate, innovate, encourage and persevere. Little things, over and over again. Willingness and faith. A controlled swing. In the fairway. On the green. Near the hole. Easy tap-in. It seems like it could be easy.

Some shots go bad. Some holes even go bad, often from multiple bad shots. Lost focus? Is this lost faith? Leach also says that adversity will come. He is right. It’s not avoidance of adversity that defines us. It’s our performance in the midst of it. Like cheering on a team in the throes of difficulty. Giving our best to each shot in a wave of triple-bogeys. Birdies are out there, along with touchdowns and tackles. Winning can be born in defeat.

I saw that cold weather was expected soon. It was perhaps my last chance of the year to play what I considered to be a good round of golf.

Veteran’s Memorial Golf Course is one of my homes. The first hole is short and I started with an easy par. Nice. One down. The second hole is also short. A hooked drive under a tree, a topped punch, two fat wedges, a mediocre chip and two putts.  Easy triple bogey. And the sun shone on! No trees fell and the birds continued to chirp. Try, try again. Another short par four, with a severely left-sloped fairway. Bad time for another hook. So it happened. Self-fulfilling fear? Punch near the green, chip and two putts for bogey. Then what I told myself was a really sick hole: huge trees lining the right side of the fairway, stealing the line for a power hook. Hardpan on the left leading to a wheat field, seemingly magnetized for my balls. So I drove out-of-bounds and triple-bogeyed, moving quickly to seven over par. What if I had embraced the opportunity presented by the tee shot? We’ll never know for sure. Spilt milk. I know I can play good golf. I mostly hadn’t so far that day, but I KNEW I could.

Next was a long par four, dog-legging to the right. Right-handed hookers like me prefer left-turning doglegs. But that’s the beauty of opportunity. It is where, when and how it is. On the tee I centered myself, re-gaining faith in my ability to execute a wide variety of good shots. I’ve hit them before. Calm, controlled and relaxed swings are a path to success. Hit the best shot possible. Regardless of the outcome of that shot, do your confident best on the next. And the next. And the next. This is the story of football and golf and all of life. Just hit it sweet!

So the same guy who was seven over par after four holes was still seven over after nine, after a nice two-putt birdie on number nine, set up by a conscious effort to swing easy and free on the tee. Not “hard” to hit it long; rather, easier to hit it better. So I hit it sweet and straight and onto the green. It was a good lesson for me. I need a lot of re-education.

The back nine went much like the front nine: two triple-bogeys in the first three holes, sandwiching a bogey. Seven strokes lost to par in three holes. Then another turnaround: three pars, two bogeys and another birdie, completing the back nine in eight over par.

It was a tale of extremes. Not an awesome score, but some excellent shot-making mixed into character building lessons. I’m awaiting better scores. I believe they’re coming. I will persist in doing my part to make it so. Even more importantly, I will enjoy the journey. What fun!

 

My race uniform and some of my rewards (the best rewards were breakfast with Mark and Linda and as noted below!).

My race uniform and some of my rewards (the best rewards were breakfast with Mark and Linda and as noted below!).

Golfing is not the best training for running. It may, in fact, be a version of insanity. But it lured me in. So I ran less and played more this year. Maybe I needed a break after last year’s collection of long-ass runs. Long-ass runs are character builders. They can turn nice people into cussers. They can also boost our confidence. They are hard tests.

Pesto is one of my favorite fuels. I love the taste and I can burn the calories during a long-ass run.  Double win! Basil grows in my yard, so pesto it was! It tasted so good! Would it help me run fast?

Hell yes! Well, it’s relative, of course. Fast to me is defined differently than it once was. But it is still fun!

Races are filled with deja vu. For me, mind games are inevitable. So we just have to win them. Against ourselves! Let the optimist win!

I surprised myself today, because I was willing to believe. Go for it and see what happens. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Can you live with that? I could crash and burn and have to walk to the finish. I could live with that. But what if I could keep the pace? Then I get to ride a high!

The young speedsters went out fast. So did some of us plodders. My first two miles averaged about a minute and a half faster than my recent training runs. So I started to dream about success. Hey! I should go for it!

I found my groove and kept a steady pace. It felt like a miniature version of a marathon. Focus on form, keep it steady, remember to fuel and hydrate and prepare for the mind games.

They always come for me. Thoughts of failure. Signals from tiring muscles. Memories of past disappointments. Fear of falling short. Freakin’ fears! Buzz off you damn fears! I CAN do this.

Each passing competitor spurred me on in the later miles. A new rabbit! Chase that rabbit! Mile eleven was my slowest of the day, approximating my training run average. My legs felt so heavy! My left foot was blistering. It would be so easy to walk. It would feel so much better. Or not, at least in the long run. Push! Go! Dig deep! When your body is failing, run with your fiery spirit! It’s only two more miles! How hard is that?

Mile twelve felt very hard, but it turned out to be one of my fastest of the day.  I didn’t know that until my post-race review, because it felt a little like hell. I kept fighting during mile thirteen, when a lovely woman passed me. The best rabbit yet! She pulled me to an even faster thirteenth mile. As I turned into Pioneer Park for the finish, Charles Stanger urged me on. He had blessed us all day with his musical bike parade. I owed him something! So I dug down deep. I had a little left. I sprinted to the finish. It felt fast. I’m not sure how it looked. I nearly caught my favorite rabbit! It was a win for me, because I beat my fears, and I ran my fastest time in years. What more is possible?

I tackled housecleaning today, pondering the frequency. Aided by rain and football, I found a rare mood, where cleaning actually happened. For a while. But a sobering realization sank in. I must rest! Tomorrow is the Walla Walla half marathon. I will need all the strength I can muster! Whew! I almost had to work hard…

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Nick in June on Maui. He’s even bigger and stronger now!

I’m perpetually fascinated by the limits of my mind, especially when I break through them.

When I turned forty I was blessed with a new lease on life, increasing my healthiness and happiness. I had been limited by unwillingness. Various aspects of me held me back. As new doors opened, willingness grew. My life is a makeover. Since I’m happy and healthy, should I be content? Or can I be grateful and in pursuit of more?

Why not continue to seek a better me? A beautiful opportunity presents itself regularly: my kids love to lift weights. They have passion for building muscles. It’s a heart-warming pain in my ass. Literally! Also in my chest, triceps, biceps, lats, hamstrings and back. It hurts so good!

I spent the last decade and a half in self-limiting thoughts like these:

  • I’m too old to really build much muscle.
  • Older folks should lift light weights and just try to keep some muscle.
  • If it hurts, don’t do it.
  • I am strong enough.
  • Too much upper-body muscle will be too heavy to carry around on long runs.
  • My body just isn’t the type to build muscle.

I’ve seen the aging process reduce strength, flexibility, balance and confidence.  I know it’s coming for me, if I’m lucky. Can I stave it off a while? Fight back a bit? Optimize my gift of life? Glow in the beauty of existence?

I want to live as fully as I can! My ego loves hitting 270 – 300 yard drives. 320 sounds even better. I want to be able to do whatever I feel like doing. I hope to limit my limitations and expand my abilities. So I had to try something new. Nick opened a door.

He explained to me that to really build muscle, you have to lift heavy. He recommends sets of six to eight repetitions of weights you can barely manage.  Previously I learned that to run fast, I had to practice running fast. An obvious statement, but I had to run intervals at higher speed to improve my long-run speed. So I finally bought in to lifting heavy.  My mind opened up to the realization that I’ve spent years marking time, making minimal improvement in muscle gain. Perhaps this is expanded awareness of “no pain, no gain.”

It has only been a week. My commitment and gains will play out over time. I must say, however, that this is an exciting week. I am lifting stronger and heavier than I ever have. “Chest and triceps day” last evening was my best, as well as Jaslyn’s and Nick’s. It was so fun! How will bicep and back day go today? Legs on Sunday? We will see. In between, we’ll watch the Ducks visit the Cougars in my favorite stadium. Another great opportunity! Go Cougs!

Last night I learned to do squats correctly. I’m glad I’m able and willing to learn. My ego wants my drives to fly farther and my legs to run faster. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But my legs can get stronger.

Yesterday I bought Qualcomm stock. Perhaps it will reward me, but maybe not. At least I have a financial plan that is likely to work out well.

I roll with the punches at work. It’s important for my mental health. The cycle of change has accelerated to unfathomable speed. Nothing is for sure or for long. Black and white precision is now mottled gray approximation. High level perspective is more fun than frenzied muddling.

WSU Cougar fans get to roll with the punches again too. Two losses replaced expected wins. C’est la vie! Will the crowd be big and supportive in the newly improved football complex? Will the noise be deafening for the opponents? We only have one week to practice for the mighty Ducks, so let’s get it on!

 

Nick and Zach

Nick and Zach

Life has been really good, in so many ways. Can it get any better than this?

Summer has blessed me with new experiences, which widen my smiles and broaden my perspective. I’ve delighted in new scenery on my street bicycle, feeling power grow in my legs. I promptly rebounded from a head-on collision on my mountain bicycle; thank God for pneumatic tires and pedal clips! Adjusting to the clips has involved two minor falls, but now I have a steady supply of power.

I’ve upgraded my fairway metals and a loft wedge and tried some new putters. So far this year I’ve played thirteen rounds and a couple of scrambles. Recently, that’s more than some five-year stretches! It is still frustrating, challenging, inspiring and befuddling. My first handicap in decades is 18.8, as the beautiful shots have been counterbalanced by the despicable, penalized and ridiculous. Trees, OB’s, traps, deep grass, lost balls, duck hooks and more. Golf is God’s direct line to my spirit. I think He plays too. Wine Valley Golf Course near Walla Walla made me beam like a kid on Christmas. By the seventh hole, I was delighted to realize that it felt like my favorite course ever! Treeless, rolling hills lead to smooth, fast and rolling greens. Putts roll perfectly and every shot pattern can work. Holes are well designed and maintenance is wonderful. I invite you to join me there soon! Friday’s fundraiser at Walla Walla Country Club for St. Mary Medical Center’s foundation was well-managed.  There are two ugly holes there, one with a blind approach and one with a blind tee shot. WWCC is also well cared for, but it reminds me, like so many things, that humans get smarter with time. The newer courses are often better, especially when space and site selection are not big limiters. Next weekend I’m scheduled to play Circling Raven in North Idaho (for the first time) and this fall I hope to return to Palouse Ridge in Pullman. That’s three of the best courses in the region, so I’m a very lucky guy! May the birdies be with me…..

Grand Luau at Honua'ula

Grand Luau at Honua’ula

In June Nick and Jaslyn and Annie and Zach and I all enjoyed our trip to Maui and agreed that it was a fun and memorable week, perhaps the best of our lives. For most of us it was our first trip to Hawaii. We loved the Maui Hill 3 bedroom/3 bath condo. It was the perfect way to enjoy paradise. Snorkeling with sea turtles was amazing. Boogie boarding each day on increasingly larger waves was so fun! Every morning I took coffee on the deck and savored the blessings of utopia. Our Luau was fun and entertaining, and Lahaina and Kihei offered interesting shopping. We also had fun in the pool and hot tub. We all hope to go back as soon as possible. The wood carvings of sea turtles and tikis remind us of our adventure!

Maui snorkeling

Maui snorkeling

At Rainbow Beach in July we were scorched by the weather. On Sunday morning, Annie and I turned our first paddle of the year into an epic experience. I thought it’d be a short outing and absent-mindedly forgot sunscreen, food, money and backup beverages. We remembered to bring some water and adventurous spirits. It was very fun, so we had paddled several miles, through the channel and well around the other lake before we decided to paddle the entire perimeter of both lakes. Like a marathon, the course seemed to get longer and longer! New bays appeared, each one bigger than we remembered. They are effortless in a power boat. On a paddle board, not so much.  Stroke or sit dead in the water. Luckily, I’ve done a lot strength training on my shoulders this year. With little recent paddle training, the standing became tiring to our feet, however, so we eventually alternated between standing, kneeling and sitting. As the temperatures rose, we had to jump into the water or douse ourselves more often. We were hot, tired and thirsty. Hey, we’ve been here before. We can do this! This is like a marathon! After completing the south lake and passing back through the channel, we faced a tough challenge. Our energy was spent and it was a lot longer path to complete circumnavigating, as compared to straight-lining to drinks, food and shade. Could we make it? Should we try? Are we in late-race delirium? In the end, we couldn’t envision doing it again later in the week. It needed to be done. Let’s do it! Ironically, as we neared completion of a large bay and turned back towards our cabin, the wind came up. In our face! I flashed back to marathon training runs. It was four letter word time! Somehow, we made it, over 4.5 hours after starting out. Spent, thirsty, hungry, sun-burned, hot and victorious. That was one tasty Coke Zero! A dip in the lake, some food and a long spell of shade: how sweet it is! The ensuing days brought water-skiing, which was as thrilling as ever and delightful huckleberry treats. Seeing loved ones in a vacation setting is sweet deja vu. It’s especially rewarding to see the good choices and growth in people’s lives.

Annie paddling North Twin Lake at sunset

Annie paddling North Twin Lake at sunset

I’m sitting in Nick and Jaslyn’s living room now as they slumber, along with Annie. I’m stoked that I got over eight hours of sleep and a bit curious how much they will get. We all lifted hard at the WSU Recreation Center yesterday evening, focusing on our chests and triceps. They are quite inspirational, and I needed it! Today we’re doing back and shoulders. Tomorrow? The world! Or try to intimidate Pat with some big drives. Maybe even in the fairway? Nick turned me on to inspirational videos and I’m stoked to better my core muscles, which will open more doors and make things easier and more fun. Fun! Yes! Bring on the fun!

It felt too hard! Man, what a recurring theme! It’s a timeless feeling of deja vu; I’ve been here before, many times, over many years. There are easier, softer options: slow down a little, slow down a lot, walk, quit, devise excuses…

Excuses can arise from an early morning bed: a rainy day? Perhaps I’m meant to rest this morning? Or is that fear rearing its ugly head?

Today I hit an excuse jackpot. My right calf cramped less than two miles into the race. Good or bad? Just breathe in and out, sending relaxing thoughts to my muscles. Hmmm… was this a chance to run from the run? It’s not always easy living in my mind. So stay out of it if you can!

Using a watch to forecast results is easy for me. It can also be quite limiting. My GPS watch does much of what I used to do, creating opportunity for other thoughts. These can be devilish or inspirational.

Mile one passed in 7:30. Judgement commenced. Too fast! I did it again! I will only slow down from here! So mile two took 8:08. See how much I slowed down! Feel how winded I am! It’s all downhill from here!

A self-fulfilling prophecy? Mile three elapsed in 8:26. I’ll be crawling by the end! I’m out of shape from not running all week! I’ve gotten lazy. Shit!

Whoa! Finally, my free-wild-optimist fought back. I’m nearly half done and averaging 8:01 per mile. Not bad for my condition! I should do my best and see what happens.

Part of the beauty and challenge of the Balloonsday 10 kilometer course is the loneliness, especially coming on the heels of a mega-crowd road race like Bloomsday. Most Balloonsday participants choose five kilometers. The scarcity of ten kilometer racers leads to some big gaps. Mine was a lonely path today, creating a wonderful opportunity to choose between easy lagging and difficult pushing. Who am I to be today?

Lonely mile four took 8:15. Was I choosing to be all that I could be? Perhaps my fifty minute goal is too tough today. I should have trained harder! Why do I think I can push on race day without more fast-paced training? Still, I must push and do what I can!

The volunteers were so encouraging! The course was extremely well-marked. This is my favorite race of the year! But mile five took 8:16. I think I’m slowing down too much. I’ll miss my goal. I’m doomed! More waiting? Will I just keep on saying “wait ’til next year”? Wait a minute! It’s the negative thoughts that are holding me back! I can almost always push at least a bit harder. Do it now! Run free and wild! Be the spirited stallion! Go for it!

Hey, it’s true! I do have a little more to give. When I do so, I gain capacity to give a little more next time. My life gets better when my heart, mind and soul embrace faith and venture forth, fully alive!

Mile six took 7:48. I picked up the pace! Bring it home! I strode strongly to the finish, clocking 49:29. It was my best time in years and another step towards better health. Physically, mentally and spiritually, I must face the demons I meet with faith, perseverance and lots of smiles. It fills my journey with pleasure, which sometimes masquerades as pain. Namaste!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. My role models!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. My role models!

Yours may be in June. Or not. I’m having one today. It may be the perfect day for it. To be clear, today is not as much about my privilege of being father to my children. I get those special days throughout each year, blessed with adventures, discovery and laughter with Nicholas and Annie. Today I’m thinking of my Dad, James Gilbert Erickson, the patriarch of this diverse clan I call family.

So it’s golf and gardening for me today. Pinochle too, if I can find it. NBA basketball would be right. I’ll dine on fresh asparagus and salmon later. My goal is to be a living version of my Dad! Well, if only I could have kept it in the fairways…..

Life deals hard knocks at times. Today’s round of golf played out like a microcosm of my life. I made three triple bogeys on the front nine. How? Value golfing! Why take only one chip on a hole when you can have more? Why play on the short grass, with clear paths to the greens, when you can easily find more challenge? Those trees were planted for a reason! Isn’t a circuitous life more enriching than a simple, straight line to success? Well, I’ve only had one path. The winding road has been fun! And hard. And depressing. And saddening. But enough of the tough. Today’s stark reality is that the triple bogeys are the good times. They are, after all, simply golf. Typically no blood or death. Besides, a tough time in life is still life. LIFE! The greatest gift of all? So I may have grown a bit today. After I’d chopped it around the first nine in 54 strokes, my newfound golfing friend remarked that he had more fun playing with me today than any of his other golf outings. I felt honored. Perhaps it was because I remained courteous, friendly and hopefully funny, despite the tally building on my scorecard. My highest score in over forty years was one of my most pleasurable days of the year. I was playing a game I love in perfect weather. I am a lucky man.

I parred our tenth hole, nailed a birdie putt after a sweet approach on the eleventh, and parred the twelfth. I was one under par for three holes on the second nine, after averaging double bogeys on the first nine (with no hole better than bogey). I was scoring as good on the back as I was badly on the front. The birdie was especially fun, but how I handle life’s situations is more important than what they are. I shot a pleasant 54 on the front and a grateful 40 on the back. So am I a hacker or a pretty good golfer? Attitudinally, I’m getting there. We’ll see what happens with the scores. Maybe there’ll be more birdies. Like the hawk that tried to scare us away from its nest today. That’s a double birdie day!

New toys! Yippee!!!!

New toys! Yippee!!!!

Wow! What a day! Do you want some background material?  Well, here it is anyway!

Fifteen years ago I was in self-induced funk. “I can see clearly now….” was not the song for me. I thought I knew a bit, but really I knew damn little. And I was dying fast. Proof? I tried to run. After one mile, I was out of breath, done for the day, and easing into comprehension of my situation. Then, lots of life lessons, which peeled back layers of the onion, opening my mind. In a newfound spirit of respect for my body, I took baby steps. Then more, and more, and more. Last year I finished two marathons, and I still love to run! So I’ve come to believe that excuses are tired rationalizations that held me back. Some still do. But sometimes my mind opens a bit more, like peeling the onion. Yesterday, we went bicycle shopping, because Annie needed something to ride in the Onionman Triathlon next month. After lots of fun talking with Justin, Steve and Michael at Allegro Cyclery, as well as test riding, Charles set the hook: “if a mountain bike is like a fork, you still need a knife!”

This brings us to today.

Yippee! I got a new toy! Why did I wait so long? Well, my mind held me back, as usual. Road biking is too dangerous, I thought, because of those few crazy drivers. Plus, I LOVE mountain biking, so I don’t really need a road bike. Well, I may have seen what those road bikers like, or perhaps an introductory glimpse of their passion.  Road bikes are fast! Today, I rode a hill that used to be hard on my mountain bike. It was like eating cake on the road bike, and that was after I ran nearly nine miles earlier in the day. I was doubly blessed. I felt the ecstasy of flying down a big hill on my new toy. Wow! I hate to admit it, but I even used the brakes on the big descent. But I’ll get better. Maybe someday I’ll even ride up a big mountain. My second mind opener was believing that I can handle two good workouts in one day. Can I believe in possibilities, even though they sometimes seem so far away? I believed I’d never run a marathon, after feeling like I was dying from a one mile run. Now I’m more open-minded. Maybe I’ll finish a triathlon…..

What if I know of real solutions for affordable health care, but nobody listens? What if I know of a simple cure for some types of depression, but no one hears me? Stress reduction? Better health? Peace of mind? Contentment? Freedom?

Maybe we all have to figure them out on our own, in our own time. It’s cool that the answers are real and widely available! They’re almost free, yet priceless. I hope you agree, in the most real sense of all, via actions. Live well!

Yesteryear, but you get the idea!

Who’s high on life?

Should I visit the Alps? Or other mountains? Before the lure of the desert seizes my spirit with warm weather fun?

My golf vacation was so fun! Pat and Lyn were so gracious, as always. Phoenix weather in January is roughly PERFECT for golf. They say April is even better, but I can’t see how. Perhaps the grass will be even greener and the air a bit warmer. Hmmm…… I’ve felt more ready for transitioning to warm weather winters. Age really seems to increase my appreciation of warmth, and aversion to cold. It seems progressive. But maybe not so fast…..

Over the past weekend, my Blue House Cafe transformed into a ski chalet! Nordic adventures of the past thirty years flashed vividly back. I entered a timeless zone, where the glide is everything. It’s a breathing meditation at a higher level. I understand more deeply why the Olympics now offer “skiathons.” Because they’re the winter equivalent of marathons! The evolution of the term is obvious, but the fun is in the feeling. I skied for hours on Saturday, excited to return to better health. Then the Olympians inspired me on Sunday. It just got better and better! When I’ve run marathons, the powerful endurance was awesome. But each passing mile typically got harder. With cross-country skiing, my glide improves the more I practice. It feels so good; I get addicted. So on Sunday, I played a mental game of calculating how much farther I could ski before turning back. When would the sun really set? Will I get enough afterglow? Hey, I just need to make it back to the streetlights by heavy darkness. Yippee! Press on! How fun!

So my aversion to cold, grey, and wet winter days was broken. I relived the glory of winter! I moved further towards appreciating the moments of my life, whatever and wherever they are. Work has been tough, but I’ve handled it better. I’m moving in the direction I want: be the best I can be, live proactively and enjoy the moments. It’s sweet!

Golf is no four letter word. It’s often called “Arghhhhhhhhh!” Or “dammmmnnnnnn!” Or other unpleasantries. Except when you hit one just right. Then it’s “ahhhhhhhhh.” Maybe “yessssssssss!” I’ll be back soon. That just feels too good. I want more. Like a sweet romance, it tantalizes, lures and hooks us. It will never be mastered, but I think I’ll try. As the sun smiles on my skin and the breeze cools my brow, I visualize a towering shot, rising high in the sky, threatening the target. Mastery of a moment, if only a single shot, suggests mind-pleasing possibilities. I’m the man. I can do this. I can excel at mankind’s most challenging game. If I find the sweet spot in my spirit, I’m opened to finding the sweet spot on the club head. One opens the door to the other, analogous to so much of life. So swing away. You’ll see just where you are. The truth is delightful. It points to exactly what to do next. We simply need to open the eyes of our minds. Namaste.

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In 2013 I learned to be more true to myself. I enjoyed my first ever marathons, standup paddling, greater freedom of spirit, more perspective, less fear and increased confidence.
I’m confident that the best plan for me is to reach out, smile, encourage, savor, learn and grow.
Yesterday’s intense leg weight lifting session rolled all of those together. So does work, and so can adventures. Mysteries abound; many are filled with fun! To at least some extent, they are what they are. I can choose to see the fun. More fun!

Invigorators!

Invigorators!

 

Race her? I think the blue house really fires her up!

Race her? I think the blue house really fires her up!

How hard can we push? How hard should we push? Claiming to be old and not pushing at all seems wrong for me. Pushing to premature death sounds lousy. How do you know how hard to push?

We missed out on cardiovascular exercise on Tuesday, so Annie and I did sixty minutes on Stairmasters at level ten on Wednesday evening, climbing 280 floors. That’d be a tall building!

Early Thursday, we ran three miles in the American Red Cross’ Turkey Trot along Mill Creek in Walla Walla. It’s uphill on the first half and downhill on the way back. It was around thirty degrees Fahrenheit, so oxygen was plentiful, as were clothes! It was tough to warm up, so the first mile served this role. 8:06 was a decent mile for me, especially uphill. I misinterpreted the voice on the Nike running app and thought I’d slowed down on the second mile, but I’d really sped up to 7:48, aided by half of it being downhill. I remember wishing I could go faster but staying determined to do the best I could, for comparison for next year. It seemed like I might be slowing down a bit, but I had no kick left when a guy I’d just passed sped up to pass me near the end. At least I’d finally post a short race baseline for 2013. The supposed 5k measured three miles on my device. My last mile took 7:12. I was pleasantly surprised. 23:06 for three miles, averaging 7:42 per mile, was slower than my 2006 three-mile best of 20:40, but better than my 2013 St. Patrick’s 10k average pace of 8:31 per mile. The Thanksgiving day race was only half as long, but I sense that I’m faster now than I was at the start of the year. Happier and more free as well. Yay!

I continued my winning streak against Annie. She whipped me by a long ways at both the Tri-City half marathon and the Badger Mountain Challenge 15k. I managed to best her at the St. Patrick’s 10k, Bloomsday 12k, Portland Marathon, Poplar 13k, Columbia River Classic 10 mile and Turkey Trot 3 mile. Mostly I beat her by small margins. It’s been a good year for the grey haired dude! I expect this reminder to motivate Annie, which could in turn lead us both to even better health. Wouldn’t that be cool?

So my running goal for 2014 is to go faster still.  I’d like to break 49 minutes in a 10k and 23 minutes in a 5k. Since we’re goal-setting, how about 1:55 for a half marathon and 4:16 for a full marathon? That should keep me busy. Throw in a round of golf with a score under 80 and snorkeling in Hawaii. That’d be a good year!

2013 is not gone, however. Maybe I can rock the Cable Bridge Run! Perhaps some skiing is in my future! We cranked another hour on the Stairmasters today, targeting level 11. Annie sustained it, totaling 300 floors. I eased off after 45 minutes and finished at 280 floors again. Is that a sign? Is Annie back on top? Yikes! I’d better get my buns moving! Or ease off, to be safe. I’m just not sure. But I’m digging the endorphins!

"Be all that you can be" is a habitual thing. Always do your best and regret will not visit!

“Be all that you can be” is an habitual thing. Always do your best and regret will not visit!

Smiles create smiles!

Smiles create smiles!

Once again, I choose happiness! My mind is still blown by the reality that it’s simply been a choice all along. No luck, no waiting for it to come. Just choose it now. Now! “Later” is just more talk. I love that many people keep reminding me of this free choice, because sometimes I forget, and happiness is way more fun!

Sure it takes practice. A pattern of negativity, whining and pouting doesn’t morph into refreshingly optimistic gratitude in an instant. Good things come to those who persevere!

I can’t deny that there are always beautiful, impressive, awe-inspiring things, thoughts, people, places and events wherever I am. The stark reality is that whether I appreciate and richly experience them is limited or enabled by my mind. My attitude, my openness, my closed-mindedness, my willingness and my awareness levels are key. Living fully is an option for all of us.

It’s not their fault or credit that you’re the way you are. Whatever, whomever and whenever. They can define you. Or not.

It’s a great opportunity!

What a bunch of blessings!

 

Who? Who? Who? Who?

Songs get stuck in my head. This three-letter question is key to me. It can open doors I really want opened. I simply need to figure out where they lead!

Proactive living is considerably different from reactive living. Making this change involves diving inside, deeper and deeper. When I find ugly, scary, lazy or arrogant, I can work to replace them with beauty, faith, dedication and openness. Because everyone wins!

I can expand my mind, if I’m honest and willing. I can learn, experience and believe. I believe that I can become more compassionate, wise, adventurous, dedicated, considerate, athletic and fun. More and more of the same thinking, activities and stubbornness aren’t likely to get it done. Surrender, faith and willingness to try new ways of thinking and experience new places and people and activities can really help.

I want better. I mean, my life is great! It’s gotten better each year. But I want better! Why not?

"A Very Poplar Run" 2013. Sometimes we ran through ridiculously treacherous bumpy fields.....15k was about 13k......hot dogs offered at finish.....but the scenery was nice!!!

“A Very Poplar Run” 2013. Sometimes we ran through ridiculously treacherous, bumpy fields…..”15k” was really about 13k……hot dogs offered at finish…..but the scenery was nice!!!

She woke me right up! I wasn’t sleeping, but I wasn’t really into it. I mean, things had started slow and messy, with disappointing developments. Then, there she was. My sparker! Now I had a mission! Follow Miss Superbuns!

Well, to be truthful, I’ve always fancied nice buns. Like at Thanksgiving dinner! And on many of the women who have caught my attention.

At foot races, there are some amazing buns! Today, around a mile or so into the race, she passed me. Wow! Ooh la la! I could follow those for a while! So I did. My pace quickened nicely. I really felt like I was racing! I felt fully alive! Should I chase her all day?

I don’t know if I made the right decision, but I let her go. Down the trail, faster than me. Off to inspire someone else. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sustain her pace for another seven or eight miles. But she got me moving! I ran a good pace while we were on decent surfaces. I fought through some energy lulls. And I found even deeper resolve.

I didn’t sustain her pace today, but maybe sometime soon? I feel doubly inspired to run intervals, lift leg weights, attack the stair-stepper and race faster. I have a mission! Healthily attractive, happy and athletic people are so inspiring to me! They help me want to be a better me. I like it!

Yes!

Yes!

When the above is at least somewhat true, I experience spiritual freedom. To whatever depth I get this deep in my soul, I am freed. No longer in a stranglehold of ego, fear, greed, lust, jealousy, anger or disappointment, I can be present to the presents of the present. That’s a very “good” thing! Ha!

Judging “good” or “bad” can really waste my time. I don’t get much time (there I go, judging again), so does it make sense to spend it in dismay, disrupting my spirit and having “bad” days?

What if some powerful people at work made decisions that cost the company many millions of dollars? Spouse/partner wants out? Loved ones die? Kids or friends or associates do “crazy” things I don’t approve of? Government can’t figure out how to run a country effectively? Team lost a big game? Or most of their games? Outraced, outscored, overshadowed or put down? This list could go on forever. The simple truth is that life has a lot of twists and turns, if we’re lucky enough to live on. The longer we live, the wilder it gets! Perhaps that’s because we think we know more. We learn a bit. We make judgement calls. “That’s good. That’s bad. They’re dumb. I’m smart.”

Perhaps everything just “is.” When I observe others, their judgements can be a bit entertaining and enlightening, because seeing them helps me see me. When I can admit that I’m like them, I can lessen my judging. I can move towards acceptance. I can savor the pleasures that are always available, even during the seemingly toughest times. It’s a matter of perspective, focus, attention, honesty and willingness. Logically, it’s a no-brainer. In application, it’s a constant challenge. My wish for you is enlightened freedom!

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frankoshanko

I love health, humor, adventure, exercise, romance and competition. Well, I just love life! ( :

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